Some friends of mine have just celebrated their 7th Wedding Anniversary. Every time I see their beautiful wedding photo come across my newsfeed it feels like a punch to the gut. I’ve had many of my friends celebrate anniversaries, get engaged and even get married this year and it hasn’t affected me this way.
But this is a 7th Anniversary.
I lost Jon 28 days after we celebrated our 7th.
Our 7th Anniversary is my biggest regret. See, I didn’t realize it then. But I’m pretty sure Jon had a minor heart attack that night. We were at Carrabba’s and Jon suddenly didn’t feel well. He excused himself and went to the restroom. He had done this more than once before so I wasn’t concerned. I was annoyed.
Jon had become a bit of a hypochondriac in my eyes. It was always something. (Not always heart-related: head, stomach, skin…) I used to get mad at him for looking up random symptoms on WebMD. He was always making trivial things into big deals. At least, that’s what I thought. Looking back I think he could tell something was wrong. Had we had insurance maybe his heart condition would have been discovered. But in the 7 years we were married, neither of us had ever gone to the doctor outside of my pregnancy with Jocelyn. When he was a teenager he complained about his heart enough for his parents to take him in for extensive testing. The diagnosis: stress. So any time he complained about his heart I would just tell him to relax it was just stress getting to him.
When Jon returned to the table he said he was really dizzy and would I mind if we took our food home. I didn’t complain and I tried to mask my disappointment. All I wanted was a nice evening. Between his music schedule, our one-year-old daughter, and the fact that we were living with my parents until we could make the move to Miami, we rarely had time alone. A few minutes after leaving the restaurant he said he felt better and apologized for cutting our date short. My annoyance dissipated and we said we would try and plan another date soon. Honestly, I don’t remember if we ever got another date.
I regret that night. I regret not taking him seriously. I regret my attitude. I cannot step into that restaurant without feeling an ache in the pit of my stomach. It took me a long time and conversations with two different doctors to stop feeling responsible for Jon’s death. (The doctors said from the looks of it, what happened was inevitable. Even with a diet change and meds, there was no guarantee it wouldn’t have happened anyway.)
Even though I don’t struggle with guilt anymore, (most of the time) there are so many things I wish I would have done differently. I wish I had been more present with Jon. I wish I took advantage of the moments we had together. I wish I did better at showing him how much I valued him.
I see married couples around me and it’s all I can do not to beg them to appreciate the amazing gift that they forget that they have. I want to cry out to please learn from my pain, tomorrow is not promised!
Let the little things go. If he doesn’t do the dishes the way you like, who cares? You have a man that does dishes! (Having *all* of the chores be 100% your responsibility is literally the worst)
If she’s running late, does it really matter? You have someone to go do things with. (Forever 3rd, 5th, or 7th wheel sucks!)
If he’s goofing off with the kids rather than helping you with dinner, it’s not the end of the world, and guess what? Your kids have a daddy. (My children will have no memories of their father and that crushes me every time I think about it.)
If she’s not in the mood but just wants to cuddle and watch a movie. Drink it in. You have someone who loves you. (I’ve heard more than one widower attest that they miss affection more than they miss sex. And yes, we talk candidly about those things in widow groups lol )
I remember so many things that I got upset about that are absolutely ridiculous. Would you like to know what our last major argument was about? Eggshells. Do you want to know what’s not worth fighting over? Composting eggshells.
I know it’s so hard to get caught up in the monotonous details of life. But don’t forget to remember the one you swore to love and cherish. Don’t keep your compliments and kind thoughts to yourself. Tell them! Show them how much their presence in your life means to you. Go do something fun! Something that makes you both laugh!
Life is way too short to be trapped in the mundane. Take advantage of the time you have with the person who loves you because it only takes 30 seconds for everything to be ripped from you. 30 seconds is what the man who did Jon’s autopsy said. It probably happened in less than 30 seconds. Life is short. Live it with an outpouring of love.
Now, go kiss your spouse. Like right now, put down your phone and give them a kiss that takes their breath away. Not just a peck on the cheek. I don’t care if there are kids in the room. Let them see how much you love each other. It’s good for them. The last time I kissed Jon was unbelievably unsatisfactory. I would have done better if I had known it was the last. So kiss like it’s your final chance to show how much you love, need, appreciate, and desire them. Kiss like you did in the beginning. Kiss now, and kiss often.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
Erica, you are so very beautiful and transparent…. Thank you for this precious reminder again, of the brevity of life. Thank you, for reminding your readers to value their loves….to be in the moment… let us who have ears…hear… you are loved, my precious girl…by many.
you’re always in our prayers…B&W
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Erica. Tomorrow is our 40th anniversary. I laid here crying real tears reading your sage advice. My husband is working jobs, one during the day and one at night. I will be asleep when he gets home but inn the morning I will kiss him like I did in the beginning. THANK YOU!! YOU ARE AN ANGEL!!! ♡♡♡
LikeLiked by 1 person
This was very well written and is always a stark reminder that tomorrow is never promised and we need to live each day to the fullest
Very true. In the blink of an eye your spouse might be taken from you.
Appreciate every second you have with your loved one. Be more present in the moment. Put the phone down and just be there, enjoying each other. Tomorrow is not promised.
Erica, I am struggling. What you have written is what goes through my mind everyday. Am I living in the moment, appreciating, letting the little stuff go. After Dave had his heart attach four years ago, he and we were on a path to making sure if anything were to ever happen again, it would not have been for lack of changing his habits and honoring his second chance at life. He has been depressed. He is stubborn, he works hard and is tired. We but heads a lot. We are under so much financial stress and he is able to handle pretty much anything but money stress. I am so sorry to make this about me. But I feel like I am living with a. ghost. His doctor who inserted his stent said that he did not expect him to live. I had lost my mom to a heart attack four months prior. then my brother to a congenital heart defect at the age of 27 then my mother in law, again to cardiac arrest, and them my grandmother to a stroke. I feel polarized. I feel guilty every day. He here. We are lucky, but I feel like we are fucking everything up.
Sorry for the typos.
Where can you find a widows group? I lost my husband suddenly early this year. I am struggling, and despite friends who care, I don’t feel they can understand. And because they were mutual friends i just cannot open up to the .
Hi Linda, I understand how you feel
I recently found an appropriate widows group on Facebook. I also know of a local group in the city I live in, but haven’t had the courage to attend that yet. Try Googling your city name and “widow support group”. Hope this helps, and that today is a good day for you.
Erica, thank you so much for another great post. I feel like I want to make a billboard with this message and wrap it around me as I walk through the world. My husband was taken from me too soon as well (metastatic melanoma a little over a year ago). I miss him terribly – every single day. Every time I hear a couple bickering in public, I want to take them both by the scruff of their neck, and say what you and I both know; LIFE IS TOO SHORT! You guys don’t get it! You MUST treasure every minute you have together! It doesn’t mean it has to be perfect, but please shift your paradigm. If you and I had to go through this horrible experience, at least maybe we can share what we learned from it. I think you’d agree this is only one lesson, but it’s super important. Much love and support to you, girl! Keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s helping us all. Elizabeth
LikeLiked by 2 people
i too lost my husband (pancreatic cancer) when he was alive he used to say to me that we must have more time for us , i did,nt listen and just carried on letting the normal daily life take hold of me . i now know what he meant , a kiss, a hug . But it only makes our hearts heavy thinking about what we should have said or done. i,m thankful for the 39 years we had together .
thanks for your beautiful Blogs ,
Take care Alison
This is so beautiful… and so true. We should all remember this and appreciate every minute.. Thank you for writing this! ❤
What a gorgeous gift you gave everyone who sees and reads this post! I feel deeply certain that your husband’s soul consciousness knows about your feelings
and wants you not to grieve or regret anything between you. Surely your soul would feel the same were your situations reversed. Keep the love, release the guilt❤️
I know everything you feel, and you say it perfectly. Keep getting it out.
Tell it like it is. People can’t hear this enough. My husband of 36 years died in March and my regrets are similar to yours. And I had many years to make things different. Probably doesn’t matter. Regrets are inevitable. Hang in there. And thank you for sharing.
Reblogged this on Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library.
Great read thankkyou